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Old 02-16-2014, 03:28 PM   #1
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My 1989 YJ: The Nightmare Build

I dont know why, but somehow I always end up with the biggest, most rotten turd of a project I can manage to find. Maybe chalk it up to the fact that I live in Michigan, and Im a cheapskate? But hey, someones gotta bring em back. Its a good thing Im not afraid of metal work, cause here it is:



Bought this Jeep from a friend at work. It was his daily driver. I dont know how he's still alive. The frame is rotten at the left rear spring mount, the floors have separated from the rocker panels, and the trans crossmember was barely hanging on by 2 of 6 bolts, track bar mount is cracked, and all the shock bushings are literally GONE. But I scored it for $700 with a nice interior, hard top, bikini top, full and half doors. Already sold the boat anchor AX-5 and cracked 2.5 block for $100, and went and scored a killer deal on a '97 AX-15 (needs syncros) for $100.

The first thing I did was strip the front clip off. Ill be cleaning up the frame to repaint and building my own flat fenders.



This is what was left of the floor:


So i figured it was time to get a welder and start makin sparks. Got some free sheet metal from the Stamping dept. scrap bin at work, and spent the weekend cutting and welding. Not restoration worthy at all, but its solid now!



Some rattle-can red primer, redneck style:



Now I can actually slam the door without the whole body tub rattling!

Found a deal on a powerplant! A 258 straight six from a 1978 CJ. Good clean motor with a new alternator, HEI distributor, and Weber carb. $275!



I know the old 258 isnt the most desireable choice, but I like them, and Im not afraid to weld New motor mounts on the frame to make it fit.

Damn you, old man winter!


At least I have a heated garage with enough space to work on the drivetrain. I've already started rebuilding the orignal NP231 transfer case, and I'll soon be rebuilding the motor and trans as well.

Stay tuned. This thing WILL be flinging mud this summer!

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Old 02-16-2014, 03:46 PM   #2
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Nice. Keep it up. I like the older (still AMC inspired) YJ's

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Old 02-16-2014, 04:17 PM   #3
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Oh, and it has a 4" spring lift. No body lift or spring-over bullshit
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Old 02-16-2014, 09:29 PM   #4
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Glad you have rescued that poor Jeep and will bring it back to life.
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Old 02-16-2014, 11:34 PM   #5
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BTW, this is my first project Jeep. The red TJ in the back has been my daily driver for about 4 years. I'm not doing anything fancy with this. I just want to turn it into a solid, good running, starter rig. Ive been to a lot of mud bogs, and have taken my TJ to Bundy Hill a few times (a local 300 acre off-road park) but this will be my first serious wheeler, so feel free to throw some tips at me along the way. Thanks for lookin'
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Old 02-18-2014, 03:15 PM   #6
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Good work so far Hope you're able to get it done and wheel it!
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Old 02-19-2014, 01:02 AM   #7
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Great start. Look forward to the end result.
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Old 02-19-2014, 08:04 AM   #8
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Great start! Love to see yjs still kickin'
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Old 03-02-2014, 03:48 AM   #9
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Quick update and some info for those brave (or weird) enough to do a 2.5 to 4.2 or 258 swap in a YJ. Ive been doing a lot of research on the swap, and it takes a little digging, since most people just say "Dont do it", but heres what Ive found. You'll want to use:
-flywheel and clutch native to the 4.2 engine youre using
-motor mount brackets native to any 4.2 YJ; the modern 4.2 brackets will bolt to the old AMC 258 of any year.
-I've been told you can cut and re-locate the frame side motor mounts, as the 4.2 mounts are the same bolt pattern, but more forward on the frame, but I have yet to do it, so no guarantees.
-AX-15 transmission; 1994-99 preferred for front bearing retainer. Dont bother with the Peugeot BA10 trans. They are junk
-AX-15 or NV3550 bell-housing 1994-2006; as they use the external slave cylinder. Earlier internal slave cylinders cant really be modified or adjusted to work with the older style clutch.
-clutch master cylinder; 1980-86 CJ is preferred because of a larger diameter cylinder
-possibly change driveshafts. (I still have to look into this some more, but I'm pretty sure the i4 and i6 driveshafts were different lenghts)

IMPORTANT DETAILS: If you're using the NP231 J transfer case that originally mated to a 2.5/ AX-5 trans, you will have to either change the input gear, or use a T-case that came from a 4.2/ AX-15 Jeep. If changing the input gear, it must be a 23 spline, short gear. There are 3 different lengths. Using a gear that is too long will seem to work, but will soon cause damage in the transmission from what it does to the end-play of the trans' output shaft. Also, the 1987-93 gears had a wide cut bearing surface, and the 94-present gears have a narrow bearing surface. You need to know what year your T-case is, so you know which gear to order.

Thanks to ebay, so far, I have gathered all of these parts, except the CJ master cylinder and the T-case input gear. You might find a good used input gear on ebay anywhere from $25-$75, but it'll take some patience. If you have the cash, Novak-adapt sells them new and specific to your setup for $150 and up.

Now that I have the parts, I just have to sort out some electrical in the garage, or trailer it to a friends house to use a 220V welder to patch the frame and relocate the motor mounts. Then its all bolt-on from there. Stay tuned
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Old 03-13-2014, 05:51 PM   #10
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Good job so far. I don't think I've ever seen a jeep that rusted out.. Thing was bad..It will look good when you're done..
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Old 03-13-2014, 09:22 PM   #11
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I'm glad you are doing the motor swap. My frame was had several bad rust spots and I decided since I'm not already too busy that I would find a donor frame. At this time, I'm not sure if it's a I4 frame or I6 (odds are I4). So I will probably also be moving motor mounts. From the research that have done so far, there appears to be two popular ways to move them.

1) Cut the I4 mounts off and bolt them to the motor, position the motor and mark the location, and weld. 2) Simply measure an I6 frame for mount location and move yours. I'm still a ways from installing the motor, so I haven't done either.

I'll be following your thread closely.
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Old 03-14-2014, 08:25 AM   #12
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Try Davesjeep.com for the input shaft on the t-case.
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Old 03-14-2014, 01:52 PM   #13
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I ended up ordering the T-case input gear from Novak. They were by far the most specific about the specs of the gear and the application, so I knew i was getting the right one. I just have to take the case over to my dads to use his press and change all the bearings. After the transfer case is buttoned up, Im rebuilding the AX-15 trans. Has anyone done a rebuild on one at home? Ive done engines and axles, but never a transmission. Any special tools needed? Should I tackle it myself or pay a shop $300 to do it?

And to charleybrwn13: I plan on trying method #1 for the motor mounts. I want to have the whole drivetrain mated together, trans mount bolted down, and driveshafts in before i weld the mounts on. That way I know I have the right position and pinion angle before I make it permanent
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Old 03-16-2014, 11:58 AM   #14
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If the shop is only charging $300 for the rebuild, it might not be worth your time to rebuild it yourself.

Also, how the hell was your coworker driving that thing around? Was he trying to mimic fred flintstone with the floor being gone?
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Old 03-17-2014, 10:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
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If the shop is only charging $300 for the rebuild, it might not be worth your time to rebuild it yourself.

Also, how the hell was your coworker driving that thing around? Was he trying to mimic fred flintstone with the floor being gone?
LOL- That's funny I don't care who you are. Seriously Though - Where's the motor out of that thing ? Did it fall out ? Just kidding - You're doing a great job , Keep up the good work .. Here's to you..
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Old 03-21-2014, 09:02 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cptcrunch View Post
If the shop is only charging $300 for the rebuild, it might not be worth your time to rebuild it yourself.
Well $300 is a pretty good chunk on my budget, but probably still worth the investment since Ive never done a trans myself

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Also, how the hell was your coworker driving that thing around? Was he trying to mimic fred flintstone with the floor being gone?
lol Actually, he didnt know it was that bad. The owner before him had put in a half-ass patch of sheet metal glued in with some kind of caulk, and then covered it back up with the carpet. If he was a bigger guy he probably wouldve fallen through the floor because the floor pan was so rotten that it had detached from the rocker panel, from the firewall all the way back to the rear wheel tub
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Old 03-21-2014, 09:28 PM   #17
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Moses Ludel's 4WD Mechanix Magazine - Moses Ludel Rebuilds the Jeep AX-15 Transmission, Part 1: Disassembly-Inspection

A buddy and I rebuilt my AX15 last winter. Neither of us had done it before. I found the above link and spent some time familiarizing myself. Bought a master rebuild kit from East Coast Gear Supply and went to town. We took our time and followed the above link to the last detail. I want to say it took us like 3 hours or something. The master rebuild kit came with synchs, bearings, seals etc.
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Old 03-24-2014, 02:06 PM   #18
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Thanks nmill5321, this is EXACTLY the kind of article I was hoping to find on the rebuild. The Haynes and Chilton repair manuals are too vague and not enough visuals for someone like me who's never torn a trans apart before. Im gonna try this at home
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Old 03-24-2014, 03:04 PM   #19
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You got it man good luck and us posted
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Old 04-02-2014, 10:22 PM   #20
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Tires!

Made a little bit of progress on the YJ today. Found a deal by facebook on some 33x12.5 BFG All Terrains with about 60-70% tread. I was hoping to get Mud Terrains, but I couldnt pass these up for the price. $250 with the wheels, where as most others in my area are asking $500+ for a set of 33's with 40% or LESS tread. They barely all fit in my TJ for the ride home and Im suprised I didnt get pulled over:


Had a little set-back on the way home as the left front hub on my TJ burnt to a crisp with another 40 miles to go. After letting it (and myself) cool off a bit, I turned on the 4-ways and limped home 20-25mph. Had to fight the urge to put the 33's on the YJ before I changed the hub on the TJ, but I got them both done.

Back to The Nightmare; I popped the drums off and the project lived up to her name again, as this is how they came off:

Shoes? What Shoes?


I will definitely be changing shoes, wheel cylinders, and all the springs and hardware before I take this Heep down the road

Drum-roll please...



She looks TOUGH, but Ill be going with 10" wide rims later on with probably 2" less backspace. The track is a little too narrow and the fronts may rub the frame on stock wheels.

I also dropped the gas tank out of it, since I'll be doing some serious welding on the frame and underside, followed by a lot of clean up and coating with bedliner.


So the tires set me back a little on my goal for buying a hydraulic press and rebuilding the trans. and transfer case, but rebuild kits are always in stock, decently priced used tires arent. For now
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Old 04-03-2014, 11:01 AM   #21
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Big improvement .. It sounds like you got a good deal on those tires , did you have them balanced ? Someone was really driving that Jeep with those brakes ? Holy Crap !! I'm surprised he didn't roll it .. Looks like you're making good progress...
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Old 04-03-2014, 01:05 PM   #22
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I have a 1990 YJ with a 2.5L and I was thinking of going with a 6 cly. Now I'm not. Too much $$ and tools that I do not have. Glad for this thread.
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Old 04-03-2014, 01:10 PM   #23
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Yea, the tires have given me a new inspiration to see this thing done. And again I really dont know how the P.O. survived driving it.

I havent bothered to have the tires balanced yet as I will be changing the wheels before I drive it anyway.

SOME INFO NEEDED: This Jeep was originally fuel injected. Im putting a carbureted engine in it, but would like to keep the stock gas tank- its still in good shape. Whats the best way to go about bypassing the fuel pump so I can use only the mechanical pump on the engine? Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me.
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Old 04-03-2014, 03:36 PM   #24
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If it were me, I would keep the pump in the tank (assuming its still good) and just put a pressure regulator on the fuel line just before the carb, but after the fuel filter. The 1 in 2 out filter will let the unused pressure go back the return line to the tank.

Then just put a block off plate where the mechanical fuel pump is.
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Old 04-04-2014, 01:11 PM   #25
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Quote:
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If it were me, I would keep the pump in the tank (assuming its still good) and just put a pressure regulator on the fuel line just before the carb, but after the fuel filter. The 1 in 2 out filter will let the unused pressure go back the return line to the tank.

Then just put a block off plate where the mechanical fuel pump is.
A guy at work suggested the same thing. First problem with that is I cant assume anything is good on this pile, and second, I like to keep things simple and Im very stubborn about it too, lol. I really want to just use the mechanical pump.

Another suggestion I had (that I think Im going to do) is to remove the pump mechanism and replace it with a pickup tube with a screen on the end. Then trace the wires from the internal pump to the connector outside of the tank and disconnect them there so it doesnt arc inside the tank and go
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Old 04-04-2014, 04:00 PM   #26
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If you're going to do that , swap the tank and system over to a cj . I think the only diff. in design is cj fuel tanks are steal and yj went to plastic..Maybe you can use you're skidplate and do away with the straps.
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Old 04-06-2014, 12:50 PM   #27
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Swapping to a CJ tank sounds like more work than doing a fuel pump bypass. The YJ tank is steel and its in good condition. I could be wrong, but the CJ tank is bound to have a different connector for the sending unit, and they might not operate in the same ohm range either. Too much of a hassle to make it fit and make the fuel guage work with it.
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Old 04-07-2014, 05:43 AM   #28
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Its looking pretty good, believe it or not my friend has a 95 yj that is in worst shape than that I'm not sure how he is alive considering its rusted to hell and he has hit two fence post with it so the front end looks like it was hit by a Mack truck and then a freight train haha, keep up the good work
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:46 AM   #29
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Nice Job

Quote:
Originally Posted by ratherbedirty View Post
Swapping to a CJ tank sounds like more work than doing a fuel pump bypass. The YJ tank is steel and its in good condition. I could be wrong, but the CJ tank is bound to have a different connector for the sending unit, and they might not operate in the same ohm range either. Too much of a hassle to make it fit and make the fuel guage work with it.
You might be right.. I'm still learning.. I've seen people scrap Jeeps in better shape than yours is in ,, It's good to see you have the passion to save this Jeep , bring it back to life and make it nice again... Good Job...
BTW.. Love the Motor .. What kind of Carb dose it have ? That DUI Distributor is nice..They cost about $300.oo New - I'd say you got a great deal...
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Old 04-09-2014, 04:27 AM   #30
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The carb is a Weber. Not sure how many CFM. The guy couldnt remember, and i cant seem to find any good numbers on it to look it up.

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